PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Daniel Bard reclamation project is headed in the right direction.
No, Bard hasn't thrown off a mound yet this offseason. That will take place Sunday in Mississippi, under the watchful eyes of Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Still, the closer Bard gets to Spring Training and the more he can distance himself from his forgettable 2012 season as a starter, the better.
"If I were to map out [Bard's confidence], it's gotten better the deeper we've gotten into the offseason," Farrell said. "I think as he's picked up a ball and gotten back into the throwing program, he's felt some things naturally come back to him, particularly his arm slot.
"We're not going to put his challenges aside and pretend they never happened, but as he's gotten further away from it, he has a fresh outlook on this. The workouts he's gone through this offseason have been consistent and strong. Just the tone and confidence which he speaks from is another step in the right direction. That will all be solidified as he commands the baseball in Spring Training and starts to get some tangible results once he steps on the mound."
The 27-year-old right-hander has his sights set on rediscovering the form that made him a star setup man from 2009-11.
That mission will be easier said than done. But Farrell is optimistic.
"There's some changes you can identify there, and in talking with Daniel, the most encouraging thing in a situation like this is that he's aware of the changes that have taken place," Farrell said. "Now, unwinding those changes and getting him back to the basics of what he's demonstrated previously and the strengths that he has, I think most importantly he has got a clear view of where that needs to settle in from -- not only from a delivery standpoint, but from an aggressive, simplified approach.
"I think as a starter maybe he tried to manipulate the ball too much, maybe be a little bit too fine where he was trying induce a ground ball instead of staying with that aggressive approach that has made him successful in Boston."
Classic schedule adds wrinkle to Farrell's new job
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The World Baseball Classic certainly isn't doing John Farrell any favors. The Red Sox manager and his coaching staff will have plenty of work to do building relationships with their players when Spring Training begins next month.
Farrell knows he has no choice but to make the best of the situation.
"In this first Spring Training for us, with a new staff and a number of new players, the time that we spend together will be critical for us," Farrell said Thursday night, prior to a taping of NESN's Red Sox town hall meeting in Providence. "How we identify with one another is going to be key. But we're not going stand in the way, nor can we stay in the way, of the WBC and the representing countries our players are from."
Those players, as announced on Thursday, include pitcher Alfredo Aceves (Mexico) and outfielder Shane Victorino (United States). A pair of Minor Leaguers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands) and pitcher Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico), were also named to provisional Classic rosters.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and designated hitter David Ortiz removed themselves from consideration for this year's Classic as each battled injuries last season.
General manager Ben Cherington, also in Providence on Thursday, said the Red Sox evaluate their players' candidacy for the Classic on a case-by-case basis.
"If you have real concerns about a guy, sometimes it's taken out of your hands because it's an injury or sometimes you can have a conversation with a player and it makes sense to sit it out and the player decides himself, which we had this year," Cherington said. "Other times, it's not really much riskier and we're comfortable with it.
"Whenever you have less control over a player there's a little anxiety, but they're going to be playing games one way or another. They're either going to be playing games in Fort Myers or playing in games in the WBC. Perhaps the intensity level would be a little bit different. So you take it case by case."
Farrell's schedule heating up as spring approaches
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Here's a look at John Farrell's upcoming itinerary:
On Friday morning, the Red Sox manager will arrive in Dallas to meet with John Lackey. Farrell worked with the veteran right-hander while serving as Boston's pitching coach in 2010.
On Saturday, Farrell is scheduled to meet with left-handers Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales in Fort Myers, Fla., as both pitchers already have reported.
And on Sunday morning, the skipper will be in Mississippi to oversee righty Daniel Bard's first mound session of the offseason.
Farrell then heads back to Boston for three days of organizational meetings starting Monday.
"It's getting to be that time," Farrell said. "Kind of the normal paces of things that you really need to get done, and getting in front of guys I thought was important this year.
"It's been a continuation of reconnecting with a number of guys, either in person or over the phone, and a lot of Spring Training planning going on with [bench coach] Torey Lovullo and the rest of the staff."
John Barone is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.